Dental problems force uninsured Tennessee residents into ERs

Dental InsuranceA report issued by The Pew Center on the States has shown that residents of Tennessee suffering from toothaches and other dental problems are finding themselves in hospital emergency rooms as many of them cannot afford preventive care and are not covered by dental insurance.

Residents of that state have made over 55,000 visits to emergency rooms since 2009 due to issues with their teeth or because of jaw disorders. Adults do not receive dental coverage by TennCare, and many employers within Tennessee do not include dental coverage in their plans.

The Pew report also indicated that across the country, there has been an increase of 16 percent in the number of emergency room visits that were made between 2006 and 2009, which were the result of dental problems. In 2006, treatment of those patients cost almost $110 million.

The report also revealed that less than 50 percent of the dentists in 25 states provided treatment to patients with Medicaid.

According to The Pew Center’s Shelly Gehshan, the trend for such a large number of people in the United States go to hospitals in order to receive dental care is an indicator that the current system is not functioning properly. She went on to say that it the emergency room care for dental treatments is significantly more costly, and that it generally won’t solve the underlying problem behind the dental issue.

Gehshan said that the majority of emergency rooms at hospitals do not have dentists on staff “and the medical personnel who work there are not trained to treat the underlying problems of patients with untreated dental issues.”

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